To Russia with Classics Club Spin

AnnaThe second Classics Club spin machine landed on number 6 which means I’ll be reading that classic of realism,  Tolstoy‘s Anna Karenina.

I’ll be opening it with very high expectations. Some esteemed authors have heaped praise on this novel over the years. Both Dostoevsky and Nabokov considered it ‘flawless’ while William Faulker labelled it “the best  written” and Time magazine included it in their Top Ten list in 2007.

Tolstoy had a high opinion of it also, considering it his first true novel (not to be compared with his epic work War and Peace that he viewed as more than a novel. He’s said to have written Anna Karenina after hearing of the suicide  at a railway station of a young woman who had been the mistress of a neighbouring landlord. Although Tolstoy arrived at the station after the drama was over, so he didn’t actually see the woman, the incident is said to have stuck in his mind.

He turns the woman into the  tragic figure of Anna Karenina, an aristocrat and socialite who turns her back on her insufferably dull and stiff government minister of a husband Alexei Karenin and embarks on a passionate affair with the affluent Count Vornosky.

I first read this novel when I was sixteen and in that phase of life where I read anything I could get my hands on that was written by a foreign author (ie not British or American). Stendhal, Camus, Grass; Tolstoy all passed before my eyes. Actually I probably understood very little but I did feel so superior to my classmates who were all still in Jean Plaidy and Dennis Wheatley phases. All I remember about Anna Karenina was that it was long, had a complicated set of characters whose names kept changing (though not as big a cast as War and Peace which I also struggled through) and I cried at the end.

Will my experience be different second time around? I suspect the names will confuse me once again and I know the length of the novel won’t have changed. But will I cry at the end this time???

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on May 21, 2013, in Classics Club, Sunday Salon and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I think so; you will read “another book”, different from the book you read when you were young, I’m sure.
    Hope you enjoy the book again even though you know the end (I think everybody knows the end, even people who haven’t read it before!).

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    • thats certainly been the case with Jane Austen, Isi. I enjoyed the stories when I was younger but it wasn’t until I was in my fourties that I appreciated what people meant by her dry wit

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  2. AK was one of the first books I read from my classics list. It was a long slog of a read, but I got so much out of it. I had respect for Anna, but I really liked the character Levin. I hope you enjoy it the second time around. I think you will cry, but it’ll be the good kind. We all need a good sob sometimes!

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  3. Wow! I hope you enjoy it more this time. I just finished this a few months back. I love it!

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  4. This is on my classics list too, and I’ve already obtained the book. I will probably not read it soon. Thanks for the review 🙂

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  5. Alex in Leeds

    Ooh, interesting spin result. I’ve only read Anna once but I am curious to see how my opinion’s changed about the characters when I eventually read it a second time. 🙂

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  6. I don’ remember exactly why, but I did love Anna Karenina when I read it — and I was well past 16 when I did that. I often wonder what rereading books I was mad about in my youth would be like for me now. The one I keep considering is John Fowles The Magus. I keep thinking I may order it on Audible and listen to it, but I’m in a little bit of a rut listening to history.

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